Being committed to ensuring business continuity, Stellenbosch University (SU) has temporarily exchanged its historic oak-lined university town and campus atmosphere for online platforms to help curb the spread of COVID-19. This has included transitioning to online teaching and learning, online partnership development, as well as online events such as podcasts, webinars and discussion series.
If you missed any of these events in cyberspace, you still have an opportunity to tune in to the SU podcast series on the University's own podcast channel, SU Talk (https://anchor.fm/stellenbosch-university). Recordings of discussions are also still available on SU International's YouTube channel.
Some highlights of our online events offering for the period April to July 2020 were as follows:
Association of Commonwealth Universities
In June, SU hosted an international conference themed “Art in peace and reconciliation: A transnational perspective" in collaboration with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). The aim was to explore how the arts, in all its diversity, could be used to open up a space for healing, dialogue, reconciliation and transitional justice across the Commonwealth. The event formed part of the work of the Commonwealth Peace and Reconciliation Network, which is chaired by SU's Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers.
ACU is an international organisation dedicated to building a better world through higher education. The free online event brought together leading academics, researchers, artists and professional staff from more than 40 universities across the Commonwealth for a series of interactive panel discussions.
According to Prof De Villiers, the conference could not have come at a better time, as the whole world was taking a stand against racism, violence and injustice. “This conference not only speaks to overcoming conflict in places that have to varying degrees been torn apart by discord, such as South Africa, Northern Ireland, Lebanon and Syria. It also takes place against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter protests against the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in the United States." The Rector reaffirmed SU's commitment to engage and collaborate with stakeholders and its partners at a local, regional, continental and global level.
The keynote session of the conference included a formidable line-up of speakers. Click here for a more detailed article on the event. For further ACU information, visit the website.
Town-and-gown Network Meeting
“Town and gown" refer to the two distinct communities of a university town, namely the non-academic community and the university community. Although the term has strong historical connotations with reference to ancient places of learning, such as Oxford and Cambridge, it is also used to describe modern university towns, especially those that are home to significant public universities.
As part of the SU Centenary in 2018, Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers hosted a symposium that brought together a group of universities from small cities and towns similar to Stellenbosch from across the world. Participants discussed matters relating to meaningful campus–city partnerships, and an SU Town and Gown Network was formally established.
In an attempt to gain a sense of direction amidst the global turmoil caused by the coronavirus, the SU Town and Gown Network held its second meeting in late July 2020, this time online, sharing current experiences and significant projects across different institutions. Participants emphasised the value of smaller networks, as well as the importance of taking time to pause and assess ways in which the Town and Gown Network can add the greatest value to partners. It was decided that each institution would be reviewing their respective internationalisation strategies moving forward, using the network as a sounding board to communicate their experiences as everyone recalibrate.
Global Education Centre's First International Student Onboarding
SU International's Global Education Centre (GEC) has embarked on two online support initiatives. The first is an orientation programme for semester exchange students starting with online SU courses for the period July to November 2020. The second is Study Abroad 102 – a global learning short course for SU students embarking on their Study Abroad experience once approved for mobility.
The short course is being piloted through mock presentations to refine the offering, which aims to support global learning and help students navigate the complexities of living and learning in a foreign country. Developing the knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes required by SU's global learning outcomes is part of every SU student's journey towards acquiring the University's graduate attributes. The course addresses a range of topics, including intercultural communication, social justice, and personal and emotionally intelligent leadership. This experiential programme covers the entire Study Abroad lifecycle from pre-departure to reintegration back in Stellenbosch. In the course of ten sessions, students will connect the theory to their personal experiences to create new knowledge.
In addition to these highlights, a number of other SU online activities complementary to teaching and learning were held. These included a diverse number of webinars, online training, panel discussions, staff wellness sessions, Mandela Day celebrations, as well as alumni engagements.
For a detailed summary of SU online events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.